Shooting The Messenger

One of the things I discuss fairly often with clients is measurement.  We chat about things such as “What do we measure”, “why do we measure it”, and “what constitutes success.”  As you might imagine, with every marketing dollar being scrutinized (rightfully so), figuring out ROI is job one for folks like me who are gone with the wind if the results aren’t there.

Well, sometimes the results aren’t there, despite the best efforts of everyone involved.  I’ve always felt that marketing, and digital marketing in particular, is a process of continuous improvement rather than a series of one-time events.  However, that view isn’t always shared, especially in light of “fix it NOW” thinking on some senior management‘s part.  That’s short-sighted and misdirected in my book.  Let me explain.

Back in the days of that old medium, TV,  I’d engage in a conversation similar to this with advertisers (and you’ll see why it was fruitless to have it with their agencies):

Client:  We’re cutting back our TV buy.  It’s not getting results.

Me: I’m sorry to hear that although we’ve over-delivered the buy by 35%.  How did the creative test?

Client:  I don’t know.  We just cut the ad last week.

That’s called shooting the messenger.  As a media guy, my job was to get the agency turns at bat with consumers.  If the creative was repelling them from even considering the product, is that my fault?  To my earlier point, we measured the turns at bat but we never figured out if the hitter had the potential to be any good.  More importantly, while TV can deliver immediate results (ask any good DR advertiser!), for many products the “buy” decision happens over time and is reflected in ongoing research about awareness and attitude.

Fast forward.  Media today is way more measurable, as is user engagement.  In fact, there’s SO much data that one can be overwhelmed if business intelligence systems aren’t set up to synthesize the various sources and deliver actionable Key Performance Indicators to decision-makers.  The single most important thing those decision-makers need to understand is that they can’t fixate on a point in time – it’s the trends that are important, not what happened today.  When they don’t like the trend, they can’t shoot the messenger – they need to keep improving.  And measuring.  And improving.

Any messengers out there?  Been shot at lately?  Tell us about it.

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